Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 in Review

January

Bumpa had a birthday.  So did Sara.  We learned that Jack did not, in fact, have reflux.  I was relieved when the holiday break was over and the kids went back to school.  I disappointed everyone with pie that wasn't pie.  I discovered Pinterest and the house was never clean again.  I had an existential crisis.  Jack learned to walk, finally.  I got my first phone call from the school nurse, because a kid bit MG's head.  


February

We made our last payment on Jack and decided to keep him, but we still hadn't decided whether or not to keep Penny.  I acquired the nickname Vanilla Ice.  We threw Grandpa Bob under the sugar bus.  I got loud about sexual politics.  Jack said "thank you."  We got our first look at pretty cousin Baby Kate.


March


We were affected by the full moon.  I figured out how to DIY Starbucks' Cinnamon Dolce Lattes.  Mary Grace and I collected money for tornado victims in Southern Indiana.


Claire had reservations about turning 5, but in the end she did it anyway.  We seriously considered building a castle.  I told you how to start a meal co-op.

April

The girls learned what happens when they go too far.


We got our first look at the mole.  Foreshadowing.  I didn't buy a house while BJ was on a business trip, and I still regret it.  We made our second trip to urgent care/ER for a bead up Claire's nose.  We enjoyed our first stomach flu of the year.  Sadly it wasn't our last.  I turned 36.  We went to Florida and I took about 1000 pictures, and posted them one at a time.

May

We chilled with our friends.


...and our new niece/cousin...


Jack weaned himself and got his first haircut, and it was bittersweet.  I tried belly dancing, and sucked at it.  Claire graduated from preschool.


BJ took the girls to the Indy 500.  We celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary.

June

We put a hole in the house.  I started repainting the porch (it's still not done).  BJ turned 36.  I took over the neighborhood.  BJ's grandmother died at age 100.  I had to shoo boys away from the girls' bedroom window.  Jack turned 18 months old.  I raged at the local drive-in movie theater for inappropriate previews during kids' movies, and they apologized and stopped showing that trailer!  The girls did Theater Camp with Owen.

July

Pinterest proved unreliable.  I got a little bit silly about childproofing.  We debated about sleepovers.  Brian and Jen got married.  Uncle Chuck and Aunt Sara got married. 



August

We went to the state fair.  Mary Grace turned 7.  Claire started Kindergarten and Mary Grace started First Grade.  Penny and I killed the mole.  It was epic enough that I posted about it three times.


BJ made sushi.  I listed all my jobs and then had to take a nap.

September

We saw 1995, the Musical.  I decided to attend BlogHer '13 in Chicago.  I got loud about Health Care.  I started my career as a Girl Scout Leader.  Mary Grace became interested in archery.  I was funny.  Claire got her first celebrity crush and I was named Best Mommy EVER!  We went to the movies.

October

(It took me this many months before I figured out how to do the "heading" thing correctly for the names of the months.  Oy.)  I decorated our bedroom, finally, after living here for 10 years.  I had my first cavity filled.  My tooth still hurts.  It didn't hurt before.  Claire went on a fieldtrip to a school that was on lockdown because of a bank robber the same day that Free Range Kids and I collaborated on an article about writing emergency letters to kids.  I wrote a sappy post for Karen.  We took our first Girl Scouts field trip with me in a leadership position.  I didn't lose anyone.  But I did have to take a scout to urgent care later that week. 


We went to Chicago with Grandmother and made a new friend.  


I met Bev.  We dressed up as Star Wars characters for Halloween, of course.  

November

I found a new favorite app.  Karen and her kids got in a car accident, but they're ok.  Obama won, thank goodness.  I pre-ordered this cool thing.  We got another flu.  We were thankful for the new washer & dryer.

December

I was creeped out by Elves on Shelves.  I'm in the Jury Pool for next year.  We partied with Santa.  Jack turned two.  We made a figgy pudding (it wasn't something that I would demand from people).  I wrote about gun control.  Monica took this fantastic picture of Jack.


It's been a good year, overall, for the pretty babies.  Can't believe it'll be 2013 tomorrow.  Crazy.

Thank you for spending part of your year with me.  Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Deconstructing

This blog is about to undergo an overhaul.  I've wanted to change the name (which started out cute because this blog was just for my far-flung family, but now is oh-so-annoying) since BlogHer '09.  I need to change the design.  I'll probably move over to WordPress.  I talked about it today with Monica and Craig, and they wanted to know what I want to say - what's my unifying theme?

That's a hard question.  Have you noticed that there are unifying themes in peoples' lives?  Sometimes you'll meet someone, and you'll learn their story, and it's completely obvious to you that they're going to be stuck in the same groove in their record (and everyone who is under 30 is going, "The what in their what?") until they figure out that that's their groove and they learn how to stop skipping.  I knew a girl who was promiscuous - not because she wanted to have sex or even because she liked the guys she was having it with - but because she didn't know how to experience love any other way.  And it was so stupidly obvious to me that she was going to keep repeating the same pattern over and over and over until she learned to have a more meaningful type of interaction, until she learned to value her partners and value herself...  But she never saw.  That was a lifetime ago, before husband, before kids, and no, Freudians, I am not talking about myself...

If I look carefully at my life, I can see some patterns that repeat.  They're hard to articulate, because they're mine, but I'll try.  One is that if I try too hard to plan things they all get screwed up, but if I just go with the flow the most amazing things happen.  Another has to do with expectations - it's kind of Buddhist.  Basically I'm happy when I don't have any expectations because everything is a pleasant surprise, but when I start expecting things to go a certain way and they inevitably don't I get all annoyed and sad.  This one, I can see this one over and over and over in so many ways.  So many of my stories boil down to, "everything would have been fine if she had just let go of her plans and her expectations, but she had to try to make things live up to some ideal or archetype of the way it should be, and it all went horribly wrong."

To be honest, though, not much goes horribly wrong with me.  My life is pretty charmed.  Sometimes that makes me feel guilty.

None of these ideas lend themselves to a pithy two or three word blog title.

I'm finding that as I get older, all the things I thought I knew are getting blurry.  The things I used to think were SO important seem kind of pointless.  For example, I used to have a lot of ideas about childbirth and baby feeding and all that crunchy granola crap, and you know what?  My kids have been in school for a couple of years now and no one has ever asked me how I fed them as infants or whether or not I had an epidural.  It just doesn't matter anymore.  It makes me hesitate to presume to know anything now, because what if I look back 5 or 7 years from now and that, too, is pointless?

Then I started thinking about some of the major blog categories, other than "mommyblog," and whether or not I'd fit into one of those.  I'm not a chef, I'm not at all crafty, I suck at decorating, I'm not a photographer, I'm not even an expert mother (the jury will be out on whether or not I'm even a reasonably successful mother for another 20 years or so), I'm not religious, I can't give advice...  Heck, half the time when I write about something I'm trying to work out how I feel about it as I'm writing it.  I'll start with a general idea of what I want to talk about and where I want to go, but I never quite know where I'm going to end up.

What do I do here?

I tell stories about my kids, things I want to remember someday when they're grown and I've forgotten the details.  I try to be real about what motherhood is really like - not the made-for-TV version that we're sold by Hallmark but the real deal, and I struggle to do that in such a way that it won't embarrass my kids later.  I share my opinions about things that are going on.  Sometimes I write crazy Dr. Seussy poems or songs.

I can't think of a thing.  Not a single thing.  Can you?

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Escalator

Megan and I ran to Southlake Mall, the mall of our misspent youth, to check out the sale at Gymboree. Meg got a great deal on a coat for Kate.

We were on the escalator and the teenaged girl behind us said to her friends that she was afraid of escalators. I turned around and said "oh my God me too! I was on one once that broke and I was stuck for hours!" She was like, "oh my God, that gives me nightmares!" But her friend said, "wait a minute..." And Megan and I just laughed our heads off.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Thoughts on Guns

Picture Credit
The debate about gun control has been raging on Facebook, and I've written a lot of my ideas out there, but I want to pull them all together in one cohesive essay. That way when the gun control threads start, I can just link back here and save myself a lot of time. Who knows, maybe someone with some power to implement these ideas will do something with them?

It seems like there are four kinds of people who are pro-guns.

1) There are hunters. I honestly don't have a problem with hunting, as long as you eat what you kill. I think that's more honest, in many ways, than buying meat at the grocery store (which is an artificially sanitary way of eating flesh that makes it easy to forget that the flesh used to be alive). I know a lot of families rely on the meat that they obtain through hunting. These people shouldn't worry that anyone is trying to take away their guns. Except maybe PETA. They'd probably take away your guns, and your furs, and your leather jacket, and your cheeseburger... I like cheeseburgers.

2) Then there are the Evangelical Constitutionalists, who seem to think that God himself came down from on high and wrote the Bill of Rights, and that the 2nd amendment is the be-all-end-all of rights. They tend to forget that there is a process for amending the Constitution because the Founding Fathers knew that they weren't God, and that the world would change. Let's all think for a moment about the 18th amendment (prohibition of alcohol) and the 21st amendment that repealed it. The Constitution is meant to be a living document. Anyone who thinks that the Founding Fathers could have imagined that semi-automatic weapons would be cheap and easily available at Walmart 24 hours a day is crazy. These are people who had muskets, not machine guns. As far as I'm concerned, you have the right to bear muskets (see above re: hunting) and anything beyond that is up for debate.

3) There are the self-defense gun owners, who honestly believe that their gun makes them safer from crime. I'll swing back around to them later when I talk about the true risks of gun ownership according to research.

4) The fourth group is the group that thinks that it's their responsibility to have guns so that they can either overthrow the American government or so that they can fight off invading armies. They'll say things like, "I'll bet the Native Americans wish they'd had guns..." (No, the Native Americans had guns.  They wish they'd been immune to Small Pox, but anyway...).  They tend to forget two things.  a) there are two large oceans on either side of the U.S. that have protected us from land-based invasions for 200 years, and b) any organization large enough to attempt to invade the U.S., including the U.S. military itself, has weapons, like Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles and nukes, that are completely immune to your guns.

The reality is that Pandora has opened the box.  Like it or not, the U.S. population is armed, and if we outlaw guns (forcing people to turn them in at the police station or something) it is true that the criminals will keep their guns.  I've thought about a "cash for clunkers" style program to buy back guns, but that probably would just make the NRA folks insane.  Just like there has been an uptick in gun sales since Sandy Hook, because the pro-gun contingent thinks that the anti-gun contingent is going to take guns away, if any sort of a buyback program were to happen, it would increase weapons stockpiling.

It does no good to imagine a world where guns don't exist, or to imagine a world where everyone is armed everywhere at all times, because both of those scenarios are impossible.

So what CAN we do to make our society safer?

Well, that's when I started thinking about other things that kill people.  I started thinking about cigarettes.  I started thinking about drunk driving.  How have we reduced the number of deaths from those killers over my lifetime?  We've done it with public safety campaigns.

Let's spend some time, money, and effort on educating people about the following:

1) Gun safety.  How to safely handle and store guns.

2) Teaching children what to do if they find a gun accidentally (run, tell).

3) The true risks of having firearms in the home. (In a nutshell, you and your children are more likely to die a violent death if you have a gun.  Research proves this.  It is not arguable.)

4) Suicide education and prevention.  Mental health initiatives.  Increased public awareness of the nation's Crisis Hotline System.  Increased publication of resources for those who are suffering from mental illness, and where they can get sliding-scale fee help.

That's step one.  Now step two is a little more complex, and it's going to piss people off, but we need to get semi-automatic and automatic weapons out of the hands of private citizens.  There is no legitimate use for those sorts of weapons that can't be fulfilled by non-automatic weapons.  The argument about invading armies is invalid.  I would support a buyback program for these weapons - to get them out of the hands of citizens and into the hands of the military and the police.  True, criminals won't turn them in, but can't we stop the manufacture of ammunition for this sort of weapon, or stop the sale of it to anyone other than military and police?  I honestly don't know enough about the different sorts of bullets to know if this is feasible - I'm asking.

Step three is legislative.  We need to make laws about how weapons are stored, and we need to enforce them.  This isn't going to be easy - but if someone commits a crime with my gun, and it can be proven that I didn't have it properly stored and secured, I should be liable.  I should be punished.  We also need to make the penalties for crimes committed with automatic weapons (whether they're fired or simply brandished) extremely severe.  Basically, if someone robs a bank with a machine gun in his hand, I want him put away for life, whether he kills someone or not.  Maybe then the criminals will think twice about having them.  Maybe not, but it's better than doing nothing.

We need to close the purchasing loopholes that exist - gun shows being just one example.  People should have to have a clean criminal background in order to buy a gun, and there needs to be a waiting period - nationwide.  And there needs to exist some kind of fingerprinting technology, so that if you commit a crime with a gun that I purchased, I can be held responsible, too.

Finally, I think we need to focus on the message that guns don't truly make you safer.  All the research shows that a gun in the home is much more likely to kill you and your kids than it is to kill an intruder.  It is a false sense of security.  There is proof of this in research, and we need to publicize the hell out of that research in a way that people will 1) understand, and 2) trust.

One more thing...  The reason that the 26 deaths at Sandy Hook horrify us, but the hundreds of deaths that have happened in the intervening week barely register with most people is because it is our nature to "otherize" the victims of gun violence.  We read a news article about someone getting shot, and we unconsciously and automatically start looking for the differences between that person and ourselves.  "He lived in a dangerous neighborhood. I don't."  "She hung out with criminals. I don't."  "He isn't like me.  She isn't like me."  It's how we cope with living in an inherently dangerous world.  It's the thousands of little lies we tell ourselves every day, so that we can function and not be terrified of all the risks we face in our day-to-day lives.  40,000 people a year die in car accidents in the U.S., but who thinks about that when they drive to work?

With Sandy Hook, though, we can't "otherize" those deaths.  They were just kids, just like our kids, who went to school.  They were just teachers.  We all know teachers.  We all care about at least one teacher.  We can't just make them into an "other" because they were just like us - just going about their everyday life, and they were killed in a way that they had almost no control over.  (Why do we retell the stories of the teachers who saved their kids by locking them into a bathroom or a closet?  They comfort us - they give us a way of thinking that if something like that happened to us or our kids, we, too, might cleverly avoid being murdered.)

In the coming weeks, it will be important to not revert back to the habit of "otherizing" gun violence again.  We have to remind ourselves and each other that any one of us could be shot and killed - at work, at school, at the mall, at the movie theater, in our own homes.  And if we want to be safer from guns, we need to start educating people - just like we have with smoking and second hand smoke, just like we have with drunk driving.  Sure, just as there will still be people who smoke and there will still be people who drive drunk, there will always be people who die from gun violence in the U.S.  But maybe with careful initiatives we can bring that number down.

Thanks for reading.  I look forward to hearing your ideas.  Let's try to keep it civil and reasonable.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Quiet

It has been a very difficult few days.

Aside from Jack's birthday post, which is tradition, I haven't really known what to say here.  Our usual silly little stories seemed frivolous and disrespectful.  Yet I really don't have anything novel to say about any of what happened in Connecticut that hasn't been said a dozen times already.

Debates rage on Facebook about gun control, (mental) health care reform, who's at fault, who's to blame... and I grow so weary.  I just want to hug the families, the friends, the community.  I want to weep with them and tell them how sorry I am that this unthinkable horror occurred.

Eight of the little girls killed were Daisy scouts.  Two of the boys had sisters in Girl Scouts.  As a Girl Scout mom and leader, that hit me hard.  Eight just happens to also be the number of little ones in my kindergarten troop.  I'm sending a trefoil on behalf of my kindergarten troop, even though I won't be talking to my little Daisies about it.  We had a moment of silence tonight at Mary Grace's Investiture and Rededication Ceremony.  We told the parents what it was for, in the program, but not the children.

That's been the big choice for parents and teachers, especially those with kids who are 5, 6, 7...  whether or not to tell them what happened.  BJ and I chose not to, for a variety of reasons.  First, we don't watch broadcast TV or 24 hour news channels in the house when they're awake, so they're unlikely to see coverage of it at home.  Second, the school was not planning to bring it up with the kids (although of course they will respond to questions, concerns, anxiety on a one-on-one basis).  Third, while there's a chance that they won't hear about it at all if we don't tell them, there's no chance that they won't hear about it if we do.  And if they hear it elsewhere first, we still will have the opportunity to explain it to them after the fact (as if there's anything about it that we can explain away).  Finally, they're just not old enough to understand.  Claire, at 5, barely understands death...  And Mary Grace is so sensitive that she freaked out during the movie Tangled when the mother turned back into a crone.  She can't handle the reality of this.  Not yet.

I've quizzed them carefully every day after school - "Did you hear any funny stories today?  Any sad stories?  Anything that made you happy?  Anything that worried you?" and so far, the only reply I've gotten is, "It might snow!"

For just a little while longer, we can maintain their illusion that the world is safe and happy, and so that's what we chose.  A lot of parents chose other paths, and I respect that decision.  There are no right answers, and a lot of it depends on how old your kids are, how "plugged in" they are, and their personalities.

We received beautiful emails from both of the kids' teachers, basically saying, "I love your kids and I will protect them."  I am in awe of all the teachers and school staff who dried their tears and went to school this week, who did their jobs with a smile in spite of what happened.  They are heroes, every single one.

I'll try to get back to more regular posting around here eventually, but know that my heart is heavy.  When I start telling cute stories and posting pictures again, it'll be because I think it's important to celebrate life, especially when we mourn.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Choo Choos!!!

At the Whistle Stop museum and cafe for Jack's special birthday lunch. He is freaking out over all the choo choos! Cute!!



Happy 2nd Birthday Jack!

Dear Jack,

You are getting so big!

We had your birthday party yesterday, and it was warm enough for all the kids to play outside.  That was so much fun.  We had a Thomas cake and Thomas balloons and you got a lot of Thomas presents, and it was a very Thomas birthday!


Your silly Mommy has lost her good camera, and the pictures on my phone didn't turn out very well (Mommy has too many chins) so you'll have to trust me when I say that they exist but I'm not putting them on the internet.  Sorry, buddy.

Your language is coming along nicely.  You're not as talkative as some of your girlfriends, but I understand that that's to be expected with boys.  You can say everything important, "Choo choo, apple, num!"  You manage to get your point across and we always know what you want!

You absolutely love trucks and trains and anything with wheels.  One of your favorite activities this summer was pushing your big dump truck up and down the street.  You also love your dog, and spend lots of time wrestling with her, Daddy, and your sisters.


Your smile lights up the world, and you have a wonderful laugh.  You love to read books.  You have several favorites that we rotate through.  One of those is Little Quack.  You like to do what he does - kick your feet to "paddle on the water," sniff the water, touch the water with your foot.  We also have a book about the moon and you like to find the things in it by pointing to them.  I'll say, "Find the bear," and you'll point to it, and so on.  Your sisters just love reading that one to you.  I love the way the three of you play together and encourage each other.


You have a really special relationship with Papa.  He says that it's because you two are the same age.  

Your favorite toy for playing is:  trains trains trains

Your favorite toy for snuggling is:  trains.  It doesn't matter that they're hard, you snuggle with them at night.  We got you a soft Thomas for your birthday - hopefully that will replace the others at night. 

Your favorite food is: apple

Your favorite book is: Little Quack

Your favorite activity is: playing trains

Your favorite place to go is: our PIT class on Fridays

Your best friend is: your "Rah Rahs" (sisters)

Something new that you're doing: talking, finally!

Something you've mastered: flirting

Something people say about you: you're handsome and well behaved

Something that you're saying is: hot dog, uh oh, mine, no

Something Dad and I are proud of you for: you are a good listener

Something surprising about you: you love babies, and especially love playing with Lexi when Erin brings her over
I am so proud of you!  You are so special, and your dad, your sisters, and I just think that you're the best boy in the whole world.  I am really lucky to be your mom.

Love,
Mommy

Friday, December 14, 2012

Better now

My chicks are back in the nest.

School Shooting in Connecticut

Few things can chill a mother's blood like reading about a school shooting.  But a school shooting in an elementary school is unthinkable.  The terrified faces of the children in the pictures.  I just can't imagine.  I want to hug my kids, and I can't, because they're at school.

We just have to do something about guns in this country.

And I have to figure out how to put it all aside and get back to work.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Sandy Eggo

Mary Grace's buddy moved to San Diego and she has been really sad. They talked tonight on FaceTime and I heard her say, "What's it like there? Is it sandy?"

Hah!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Dinner with Santa

I would love to show you pictures of our kids from dinner with Santa, but they're on Karen's camera.  I could show you pictures of Colleen's kids, except I don't have a card reader for our camera, and the cable is at the office...  So you're just going to have to imagine it.

Colleen's girls were all wearing emerald green dresses with white fur trim.  They looked like the Something Sisters from the 1930s, but I can't remember the name of the group.  Who knows what I mean?

I do have a picture of us from before we left.


I need to figure out a way to get those bows to stay in their hair for the party at Mom's on Wednesday.

There were 10 families in our group!  Of course, we couldn't all sit at one enormous table, so we were at several enormous tables.  I think we knew around 50 of the people there, plus 4 more who were at the second seating that we didn't get to see ( :( ).  It was SO MUCH FUN to see the kids with their little buddies, dancing and talking and eating and being merry!

It went the way it goes every year - sit with Santa for a picture, do a craft, eat a buffet-style supper, talk, sing carols, dance, do a crazy conga thing around the restaurant to "Feliz Navidad."  It was so fun to share a favorite tradition with so many of our friends.

Monica took this picture of Jack as she was leaving:


She said he looks like a toy in a shop window.  I love it that he brought red and green trains to match the Christmas theme!  And wasn't it good planning that the carpet and the paint match the whole Christmas red-and-green too?

When I asked the kids what they liked best about the Santa dinner this year, Claire said, "Everything!" and she went on to say something profound along the lines of, "That's what Christmas is!  It's being with your family!"

Our friends are family to her, and to me.  Love that.

Previous Santa Dinner posts can be found herehereherehere, and there.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Wrong Number

Today we drove to Fishers to ride on the "Polar Bear Express" - not to be confused with the Polar Express (tm).  It was nice, but there were about 100 ways they could have made it better, and IMHO it wasn't worth the money we paid to do it.  Grinchy McGrincherson has spoken.

I did get a couple of great pictures for the Christmas card, though, so all was not lost.  I'll post them after our Christmas cards go out.

Anywho, that's not what I'm here to tell you about.  I'm here to tell you about the hilarious phone call I got while we were getting gas.  It was an 812 area code, but a number I didn't recognize.

"Hello?"  I said.

"Where do I find some fake snow?" said an older-sounding lady.

"Hmmmm...  I would guess Hobby Lobby, but they're closed today because it's Sunday.  Maybe Michael's?" I replied.

"Oh right.  Well, where's Michael's?"

"Where are you now?" I asked.

"Lafayette."

"Ok, do you know where K-mart is?" I asked.

"Yeah?"

"It's in the same strip mall, over by Pet Smart," I said.

"Ok."  She paused.  "Is this Larissa?"

"No, this is Amy."

"Amy?  I was trying to reach my son."

"Well, you called my cell phone.  I don't know your son."

"Oh, well thank you for being so helpful, Amy!"

"You bet, ma'am.  Merry Christmas!"

Thursday, December 6, 2012

WTF Snail Mail of the Day

Lucky me - I got selected for the jury pool in my county for next year.

I can hardly contain my enthusiasm.

I received a questionnaire that says it must be completed and returned within 7 days, and I must affirm that my answers are correct.  Ok...

It started out pretty standard, but then I flipped the page and got to the following questions:
Do you have a computer in your home?  Desktop or Laptop?  Do you have internet access?  Dial-up, DSL, Cable, or Satellite?  Do you have a cell phone?  How long have you had it?  Is it a smartphone?  Do you have email access from it?  Do you text message?  How often?  Do you have email?  How often do you check it?  Do you use other personal electronic devices (iPod, iPad, GPS, etc.) that you use daily?  Do you visit social media websites?  How many times per day?  Do you have an account on those sites?  How often do you use it?  How many hours a week do you spend online?  Please list your three favorite TV shows.  What is your favorite hobby?  What types of books or magazines do you like to read?  
What the screaming heck is this?  Why do they care?  Am I wrong to feel a little creepy about being compelled to give this information?  What, exactly, are they trying to learn about me, and for what purpose?  I mean, I don't want to act paranoid but this makes me feel paranoid.

I served on a jury once, when I was pregnant with Claire.  Here are some questions that I think are much more relevant to jury fitness.

* Do you get the shakes if you can't check your phone or your email at least twice an hour? (My answer - yes)

* Do you have any experience with logic and/or reason?  Please describe.

* Are you able to answer questions without completely making up answers?

* Can you keep your mouth shut, listen, and pay attention for hours at a time without being allowed to say anything?  (My answer - no.)

* Do you watch too many shows like CSI?  Are you not going to be convinced if there's anything less than DNA evidence linking the accused to the crime?  Do you realize that DNA testing is expensive and that you live in Podunk, Indiana, where we can't just take hair samples from every bad guy and run them through the lab?

* Are you able to go without a bathroom break for 4 hours?

* Are you able to sit in an extremely uncomfortable chair for 4 - 8 hours?

* Are you picky about being able to eat and drink what you want, when you want?

* Do you have excellent personal hygiene habits?  Do you use deodorant and toothpaste?  After all, you're going to be confined with 11 other people for a long period of time, and no one likes to sit next to someone who stinks.

Seriously, someone at the courthouse needs to give me a job.

Things I Don't Understand - Christmas Edition

What is up with the Elf on the Shelf thing??  I am so confused.

Image from graphicsfairy.blogspot.com's old coloring book
So it is my understanding, mainly from Pinterest, that the elf is supposed to sit on the shelf and watch the children (creepy!) and report back to Santa (gah!) but only for December.  Seems like he should be there all year, to truly be effective, unless the sins committed in October don't count toward the naughty or nice list.

Ok, I'm with you so far, even though I think it's important to teach kids to be good for the sake of being good, because it's the right thing to do, and not because there is some material reward at the end of the year for not being a brat, I have been known to say, "Santa is watching!" when one of my kids is just being a pain in the butt for no reason.  (If Santa rewards run-on sentences, I'm gonna get a pony!)

And I get the part about moving the elf every night, because he jet-sets up to the North Pole to tell Santa what you've been up to all day.  Also, it's less creepy if the elf isn't watching you while you sleep, or do other... cough... bedroom things.  Amiright?

I think we need to agree, as a culture, that the sleep-watching thing is CREEPY
But if the elf is supposed to be at the North Pole all night, talking to Santa, and if he's supposed to be the judge of whether behavior is good or bad, why is he getting up to no good in the night while the kids are asleep??

Now, granted, most of my knowledge of this phenomenon comes from Pinterest, but look at these elves...  Why would Santa trust their judgment???

But MOM!  It was funny when Gumdrop Sparklehead did it!  Why are you mad at me?
Can you say, "Ants"?  I knew you could!
I was gonna put it in the Salvation Army bucket, I swear!
He sees you when you're crapping...  He knows whether you wipe!
I find this potty theme disturbing.
Mr. Jinglepants needs to see a urologist.
Oh my God, he peed in the milk!  BARF!
Face it.  Your elf is an asshole.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Cute for a Reason



Four

Dear Jack,

Most of the time I like you. You're cute, you're funny, you're generally easygoing and pleasant... But you and your stupid dog got up at 4 am today and failed to go back to sleep. I gave up and made coffee after two HOURS of rubbing your back and saying Shhhh. It's 6ish now. It's cold and dark and I don't like anyone or anything (except coffee).

You're on notice, mister. You get a pass this time because you're sick and because I can take a nap with you later... But if this becomes a habit I may have to join the circus.

Don't make me do that. I'm afraid of clowns.

Love,
Mom


Dear Coffee,

Words can't describe how grateful I am for you today.

Passionately,
Amy


Dear Girl Scout Cookies,

Don't make me regret selling you. All the forms and websites and money are REALLY intimidating. I suppose if I can handle government contracting accounting, though, I can probably handle you.

Government contracting rarely involved prizes or chocolate, though, so there's that.

Trepidatiously,
Amy


Dear Local Drivers,

While I am grateful that none of you hit me, I am irritated that I got caught in your post-accident traffic aftermath twice yesterday. Unacceptably high for a small town. Let's all be a wee bit more careful today, shall we?

Speedily,
Amy


Dear Weather,

While it is delightful to be able to comfortably run around in a t-shirt in December in Indiana, you're starting to freak me out. Also, a hard freeze would kill some germs and maybe we could stop being sick around here.

Let it snow,
Amy


Confidential to D.F. - glad everything went smoothly yesterday and that you're feeling better.






Monday, December 3, 2012

#101 since 2007

Babble just announced their top 100 Mommybloggers and I am, once again, not listed.

It's hard not to feel a bit bitter, even as I read the names of bloggers I admire, bloggers I've had playdates with, bloggers I've slept with*, and I'm so happy for them...  I really am.

Sometimes, though, my grapes get a little sour, because I know I can write.  I know I'm funny.  I know I'm controversial and thought provoking.  Maybe I'm just doing this social networking thing wrong...  Am I?

But then I run into my neighbor Sydney at our kids' school, and she says, "You are SO funny!" and she tells me which of my recent blog posts made her laugh out loud and feel less alone, and I think, "Ok, so maybe I'm not in Babble's top 100, but I'm in Sydney's top 100, and that's awesome."

As far as I'm concerned, I'd rather have 100 Sydneys.

Thanks for the perspective today, neighbor!  XOXOXO





* completely innocently as roommates at BlogHer '09.  :)

Friday, November 30, 2012

"Childproof"

The new washer and dryer are frontloaders, which means that all their controls are right above Jack's head, within easy reach.  Buttons!  All the bright, light up, candy-like buttons that make SONGS when you push them!!!

It took him less than 24 hours to figure out the childproof control lock and turn it off.  Less.  Than.  24.  Hours.  I don't know whether to sign him up for speech therapy or enroll him at Purdue.  Seriously.

I told BJ this morning, "He is your son, and anything short of 'up-up-down-down-left-right-left-right-A-B-A-B-select-start' is just too easy for him."

Never Forget
(hackedgadgets.com)

So I'm back to putting a gate in the laundry room door to keep him away from the BUTTONS! which is troublesome.  There's no door there.  Happily, the downstairs bathroom is on the other side of the laundry room, so one gate keeps him out of both areas.

There is no way to keep him away from the dishwasher, though, and he knows how to turn it off (whether the childproof control is activated or not) by opening the door.  This stops the cycle.  We just run it at night or while he's napping, because otherwise we find a half-run dishwasher full of dishes sitting open and not running about 72 times per cycle.

The girls really lulled me into a false sense of parenting security.  They got into stuff occasionally, but Jack takes it to a new level.  Maybe I'm just older and more tired this time around.

A basement!  My kingdom for a basement!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

See?



New Trick

I can't tell you how delighted I am that Jack has discovered his ability to climb into the bathtub.  De-freaking-lighted.

This morning I got in the shower.  Of course he followed me into the bathroom.  Generally I can shower quickly enough and watch him through the sliding shower doors well enough that he doesn't have time to dump the entire contents of the cabinet below the sink into the toilet, poison himself, or otherwise cause disaster.

Today while I was rinsing off my face, he got really quiet.  I thought, "Uh oh," and opened my still-soapy eyes and the sliding door to look for him.

He wasn't in the bathroom.

"Oh great," I thought.  He'll probably be dangling out the upstairs window by the time I get out of here.

Then I felt a little SMACK on my behind.

Startled, I turned around, and found my son, fully clothed, standing in the back of the bathtub.

He was thrilled.  I did my best not to drench him while I rinsed out my hair and turned off the water.  I got dry and got out.  He refused so I let him splash around in what was left of the water while I put my face on and brushed my teeth and hair.  "Water!  WATER!" he yelled.  Add that to the list.  Thankfully he didn't turn the (hot) water on himself.

I finally got him out and left the bathroom, closing the door carefully behind me and thinking about how I might install a hook and eye that would prevent him from getting in there, but not interfere with the girls' ability to get into the bathroom.

I quickly got dressed and chose clothes for him.  "JACK!  Come get dressed," I called into the toy room.  "NO!"  Well, ok then.  Natural consequences.  His soggy little butt can just stay there and shiver while I finish posting this.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Great Moments In Parenting

The girls were just talking to Uncle Chuck on the phone, and I noticed that Jack and Penny were conspicuously absent from the vicinity.  I got suspicious, and walked toward the bathroom.

The first thing I noticed was that Penny was standing in the bathroom staring at the bathtub.  The second thing I noticed was that both the shower doors were shut.

I opened the shower doors to find Jack, sitting alone in the bathtub in the dark, holding the toy that we had just filled up with Beggin' Strips.  The baby was hiding out in the bathtub eating dog treats.  DOG TREATS.

We win at parenting!

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Voice

I've consulted one of our neighbors, who happens to be a speech therapist, about Jack's lack of talking.  His little girlfriends are speaking in full and complete understandable sentences...  Evana (2 weeks younger than Jack) says, "Amy loves you too!" and Meghan (4 months older than Jack) says things like, "Thank you for having us over, Mrs. Austin," (they're both so stinkin' cute I can't stand it!).  But Jack has been stuck on "na na" and "mama" and "dada" for what feels like forever.

I had hoped that when the girls were in school all day he would start speaking more out of necessity.  The process has still been a lot slower than I had hoped, but we're finally starting to see progress.

Our neighbor suggested that I talk to him all the time, so I've been making more of an effort to talk to him constantly the way I did with MG when she was a baby.  This morning we were getting ready to go, and I said, "Jack, where's your cup?"

"I don't know," he replied.

I looked at him, startled, and he had his hands his hands up, palms toward the ceiling, in that universal "Beats me" gesture.  I could have died laughing.  It was so cute.  I'll try to get it on video tomorrow.

This brings the Lexicon of Jack up to the following words and phrases:

Mama
Dada
Papa
Dog
Kitty
Tweet/Tree (these sound the same)
Moo
Woof
Oink (this one's actually a snort)
Up
Off
Go
No
That (which is more like "dat")
Cheese
Apple
Ice (which sounds like "ein")
Num
Nana
Choo choo
Vroom Vroom
Bad dog.
I don't know.

Today he actually said, "Choo choo.  Off," when he wanted me to uncouple his trains.  So he's starting to put phrases together into simple sentences.  I think the problem is that the words and phrases above really manage to convey everything he cares about right now.  He just isn't motivated to say much more.  I mean, all of the vowel sounds are represented up there...  Most of the consonants.  There's no reason why he can't put them together...  He just doesn't need to yet, I guess.

In other news, I broke the washing machine this afternoon.  It made a bad grinding noise, so I fast forwarded it to the end of a different cycle and walked away (mistake).  I walked past the laundry room on the hallway carpet and went SQUISH.  At first I thought the dog had an accident, and I was getting ready to beat her, when I noticed that the liquid was an inch deep and 10 feet across - much too big of a puddle for even the heartiest bladder.  I unplugged everything, covered the floor with every towel we have, and called BJ for help.

He came home and took it apart.  At first I thought that the seal had gone bad between the tub and the top, but when he took it apart we realized that there's no seal there.  We did some other stuff to try to figure out what was going on, and long story short the pump has gone bad.

Guess who got a new washer and dryer for Christmas?  Thanks again, Santa!

I think I'm going to put the old dryer, which still works even though it's really inefficient, on Craigslist for $100, or $75 if the same person takes the dryer too!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

This exceptionally stylish Native American and I would like to wish you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving!


I am thankful for you!  Thanks for spending a bit of your life with me and my family.  

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

No Good Deed

I woke up with a migraine yesterday and then Jack came down with a tummy bug after his nap (he threw up all over our poor neighbor, Cami).  He was violently sick to his stomach for about six hours, and had a slight fever.  He seems to have moved to the lower GI portion of the virus today, thank goodness, but we're laying low.  You would not believe the pile of laundry I have to do, even after sending the comforter out for cleaning (my machine just isn't big enough to clean it properly).

Sweet Monica sent me a text a few minutes ago and said, "Are you home?" and when I replied in the affirmative she dropped a treat from Starbucks on my porch (some amazing cranberry and white chocolate - OMG).

I waved and sent a thank you text, and a moment later got a text back that said:
I am not kidding.  We hit (the main road a couple blocks away) and Evana started throwing up.  You are Typhoid Mary.
It would be funny if it weren't tragic.  No good deed goes unpunished.  Sorry Monica!  Sorry Evana!  Hope you feel better.  If not, I'll do a drive by Starbucksing for you tomorrow!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Facebook and Elections


I've seen a lot of stuff lately that says,



And while that may be true for the big national elections, at least two of my votes were directly influenced by information that I learned on Ye Ol' Facebook.

#1 - I voted for Glenda Ritz for Grand Poobah of Public Instruction because every single teacher I know on FB in Indiana told me to.  And I figure if all my rocket scientist friends were telling me to vote for Dr. Soandso for head of NASA (not that that's an elected position, but stay with me), they know what they're talking about better than I do, and I should listen to them.  Same with teachers and public school policy.  So that's what I did.  And she won.  And I'll bet my vote was not the only one influenced by Facebook in this case, because the teachers of Indiana were all over Facebook in the days leading up to the election saying, "For real, y'all, vote for Glenda Ritz."

#2 - I voted not to retain some judge with two first names (Steven David) because he is the guy that legislated from the bench that the police can basically come in your house whenever they want without a warrant or probable cause.  (Thankful for Wikipedia - "A majority opinion in 'Barnes vs. Indiana', justice David is infamous for writing the controversial majority opinion stating: 'We hold that there is no right to reasonably resist unlawful entry by police officers.'")  And while I cheerfully invite police officers into my home all the time and have nothing to hide, I don't think that the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution ("The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.") is something that we should just go mucking around with.

So while Facebook posts may not have enough sway with most of us to change our political party, in some more local elections where word of mouth is critical, and where we may not be getting as much info from the traditional media as we may like, I think Facebook can be very influential.  And those local elections results often have more of an impact on our day to day lives than who is sitting in the White House a thousand miles away.

And that's all I have to say about that.

Friday, November 16, 2012

A Toy For Girls That Made Me Cry

The line that did me in was, "Your daughter is so much more than a princess."

You MUST watch this right now.


How freaking amazing is Debbie?  I love her.

I pre-ordered a set of GoldieBlox for my girls because I want to support this company and what they're trying to accomplish.

I would love to see an entire aisle of toys like this at Toys R Us or Target!

If you want to support girls getting involved in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, if you want to support a company that is going to change the world one girl at a time, if you want to do something good and healthy for the mind of a girl you love, click here and visit their website.

(Nobody paid me to write this or gave me anything, I'm just all fired up about this idea and I wanted to share it with you!)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thursday

I love getting the text message that says BJ is safe on the ground when he's on a business flight.

We had breakfast for dinner tonight - which is becoming our thing when Daddy is out of town.  The girls asked, "Why does Daddy hate breakfast for dinner?" and the best I could do was, "It offends his sense of order."  We had pancakes, bacon, eggs, and juice.  I used a different recipe from my usual that called for twice as much baking powder as I usually use.  They were super-fluffed pancakes.

The crazy up-and-down fall weather is causing lots of sickness, and a lot of our plans have gotten scrapped this week because of sick friends.  My kids have coughs, but no fevers.  I kind of wish the weather would make up its mind, but on the other hand, we're hoping to finish the porch this weekend so it can wait until Monday to make up its mind.

We had Claire's Girl Scouts meeting today.  I forgot to call our speaker and remind her, so she forgot, and I had to improvise.  We earned our "courageous and strong" petal by talking about things that scare us, and techniques for managing our fears (deep breathing, asking an adult for help, working together, singing a special "I am brave" song...).  Then we talked about how we're stronger when we work together than we are separately.

I had them lift each other up with two fingers - the old "light as a feather, stiff as a board" trick, which was totally brand new and amazing to them because they're five and they've never been to a sleepover.  (I was describing the meeting to my dad later, and he was like, "The what trick?" - I guess boys don't do that at sleepovers.  He said they do trust falls, instead, and then forget to catch each other.  Ha!)  It turned out pretty well!  I was proud of my ability to improvise.

We have some pretty shy kiddos in my troop, so I'm hoping that they'll learn that they can be "courageous and strong" when they're with their fellow scouts...  and maybe that will help them in other areas of their lives, too.

Opportunities to go camping, snow boarding, skiing, etc. keep coming up, and it sounds like so much fun, but then I remember that some of them can barely get through an hour long meeting without tears - they are NOT ready for extreme sports adventures at this time.  It's hard not to rush.

Can you see me skiing with a bunch of 5 year olds?  Oh my word.  There is not enough Zoloft.

I'd better get the kids bathed and in bed.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Facetime

I totally got lit tonight with my mom and my sister, even though they're in Denver at a conference and I'm here.  There's got to be a way for Apple to make that into a Facetime commercial, for reals.

I try not to blog drunk but they went out for dinner and we lost our connection, so I'm all alone with 1/4 bottle of wine left.  And what else is a girl to do?  If I drink alone I have a problem, but if I drink with you, it's all good.

BJ is out with his friends, tonight.  He never knows what he's going to come home to, poor guy.  Tonight he gets happy-drunk wife.  I wonder if Aldi's Cheetos taste any better drunk.  Probably not.  Sometimes it's worth it to pay the extra fifty cents, you know?  Lesson learned: generic Cheetos are not worthwhile.

When I was in college, Amanda and I would play cards, drinking bad percolated coffee and eating actual Cheetos until the cards turned orange from our fingers.  Do you ever have a memory so clear you can smell it?  I miss you, Manders.  We should Facetime, too.  Get an iThing!

But this blog is not called Drunken Mommies, it is called Pretty Babies, and so I should update you on the status of the babies.

Mary Grace told me tonight that a boy is bothering her at school, because he said he would tell on her if she didn't stop chasing him.  My sage advice was to stop chasing him.  Sometimes this parenting stuff is too easy, and I wonder if it's a trick question.  She is delighted by the riddles I put in her lunch box - today's was "What do you call an alligator who is wearing a vest?"  Answer - an INVESTIGATOR.  It doesn't take much to impress a 7 year old.

Claire's lunch notes are harder to write because her reading skills are just emerging.  Today I drew a dachshund (which is virtually impossible to spell after 3/4 of a bottle of wine - thanks spell check!) and wrote "I can draw a little dog.  Love, Mom."  All words that she can read.  It's going to be lots more fun when she can read more words.  Watching a child learn to read is like watching a flower bloom.  That's some deep shit, right there.  Yo.

Jack is still (perpetually) in the psychotic squirrel phase of development.  I'm still cleaning up mess #1, when he's completed mess #2 and is moving on to mess #3.  But he's so damn cute.  He said the word "apple" today for the first time for Erin and then for me.  He totally stepped on the dog yesterday and the Penny grumped, but didn't bite.  Good dog.

I should really drink some water and take some ibuprofen.  Oh my.  I just finished my third glass of wine.  I am a cheap date.  It is taking a great deal of effort to avoid spelling and grammatical errors.  I should probably eat something before bed.  I am currently into plums.  I have some, but I'm afraid that I'd sever an artery if I tried to cut one up.  I don't think they taste as good if you eat them whole.  Is that weird?

I miss my brother.

Oh crap, I'm turning into a sad sappy drunk.  I'd better stop now, before this gets maudlin.

(Bonus points for correctly spelling a $10 word while inebriated).

(Inebriated is also a $10 word! - Double points!)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Yawn

I've neglected to write for almost a week.  Nothing in particular has been going on.  We spent a great deal of time on Saturday trying to make progress on the front porch.  We have the old siding removed, the house wrap/insulation/waterproofing stuff that says Lowe's all over it put on and taped.  We need to haul away the old aluminum (but we need a truck for that, and some time, both of which we lack at this moment).  BJ is nervous about cutting the new stuff that we're putting up, even though we had to order 10 sheets of it so we have lots of practice material.

On Sunday we made sushi and Buffalo chicken dip for a party that he was going to.  I don't like sushi, but he was running late, so I helped.  I tasted a piece.  Nope, don't like it when I make it, either.  Nori, the seaweed stuff that holds sushi together, tastes like the part of fish's taste that I don't like.  The texture is off-putting, too.  It's like a fish-flavored Fruit Roll Up.  Why would anyone eat that deliberately??

I've done a little Christmas shopping.  Both of the girls really want American Girl dolls.  So even though I swore I wouldn't drink that KoolAid, that's what they're getting from "Santa" this year.  Stupid Santa gets all the credit for the awesome gifts, the big jolly jerk.  Next year Santa's going to bring them socks and underwear, and Mommy is going to get them a pony.

I swear, kids came up with this Santa thing.  Because when Mary Grace (very prematurely) wrote her letter to Santa, and said, "I've been good, please bring me the Marie-Grace American Girl Doll," I thought, "If we don't get it for her, she's going to think that she's BAD."  How could I possibly do that to her?

We also went to see the play "The True Story of the Three Little Pigs" on Sunday afternoon at Purdue,  but it was a disaster and I don't want to talk about it.  Let's just say that Jack won't be enjoying the theater again, children's play or otherwise, for a very, very long time.

One of us is about to be VERY bad.
Penny and Mommy agree that it's a good thing he's so cute.
That's about all.  Just the usual.  Nothing terribly noteworthy or hilarious these days.  

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Results

BJ has been watching the election results on CNN since before the polls closed in Indiana.

People are going to be shouting random numbers at me in my dreams.  All of the numbers will add up to 100.  But they won't make sense, because I'm trying not to listen, so it'll be things like, "52 percent of churchgoers think you should clean out a cabinet, while 48 percent of mothers and people who watch NASCAR think you should clean the bathroom."

(Clearly I have guilt about the state of my house right now).

In completely different news, I've had a LifeProof iPhone case ever since I got my iPhone 4S, and it has done an amazing job of protecting my phone from me and from the kids.  I noticed this weekend, though, that the plastic was starting to tear, so I took the case off today, and it's like having a whole new phone!  The touch screen is more responsive, it's smaller and lighter and cleaner.  It's easier to use.  I crack myself up.  It's like there has been a great phone inside of my good phone all this time, just waiting to break free...

(49 percent of people who put their left socks on first think I should get a new case, while 51 percent of people who eat their dinner one item at a time, rather than a bite of this and then a bite of that and then a bite of the other think that I should keep my phone naked).

When I am queen of the world, the "campaign season" will be from August 1 - November.  Four months is PLENTY.  Also, it will be illegal for the news channels to do this math thing.  They will be fined significantly for saying anything that adds up to 100 before the morning after the election.  (46 percent of people who have ever played beer pong think I should be the queen of the world.  54 percent of the people who have never eaten at a restaurant that starts with a vowel point out that if I were the queen of the world there would be no need for elections, or coverage.)

Mary Grace's Daisy troop meets at a church that's about a 15 minute drive from the school, so once every two weeks the leader and I load the girls up in the car and drive them across town.  Today they were singing Firework by Katy Perry, so I put it on my phone and played it when we got to a stoplight.  Once I was sure they were all singing along, I would randomly turn the volume down so that I could hear them all signing enthusiastically offkey.  It was hilarious.

Mary Grace was cracking up.  I looked at her and said, "When you're a teenager and you think I'm a huge dork, I want you to think back and remember how cool I was today," and she said, "Ok, Mommy!"

(42 percent of daughters of people with blogs think I'm a huge dork already.  58 percent stopped reading three paragraphs ago.)

CNN just projected Pennsylvania for Obama.  I just projected hot apple cider and spiced rum for myself to celebrate.